Study Says Women Feel Happier Post Menopause: Do Indian Women Agree?

According to a survey, women feel much happier after menopause than before it. However, Indian women have a different perspective, which is driven not just by bodily symptoms but also by social conditioning.

Rudrani Gupta
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Periods are painful for many women, including me. I am almost bedridden during my PMS and also during the bleeding. The days leading to my periods mess with my mind, body, and work. I am not able to think rationally; I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, which ultimately cause somatic symptoms. The hormonal disbalance combined with my mental health illness sometimes makes me suicidal too. Then, before each period, I fear pregnancy. If my periods are even slightly delayed, I start freaking out and googling about the symptoms of pregnancy. This certainly affects my sexual life too. Overwhelmed by all this, I sit and wonder sometimes: would I be happier if I hit menopause? 


The question that raced around in my mind finally got an answer. According to a survey of women aged 50–64, 65 percent said that they were happier than before menopause. Moreover, 66 percent felt more independent, and 59 percent had a better relationship with their partners and friends. 

Moreover, in the domain of work, 48 percent of women claimed that their work-life improved since menopause, while 15 percent reported a deterioration. In addition to this, 29 percent of women said that their sex life has also improved since menopause, compared to 19 percent of those whose sex life has become less satisfactory. 

However, the research also said that the women who gained benefits during menopause were mainly those who were taking Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT). 

Moreover, Neuroscientist Dr Lisa Mosconi, who recently wrote a book titled The Menopause Brain, said, "Postmenopausal women are on average generally happier than women on their perimenopause." Talking about the reason behind it, Dr Mosconi says that some changes happen in the brain when the emotionally reactive parts are turned down during the menopause transition. However, after menopause, they are less reactive to negative things. 


A clinical psychologist practising in Noida, Prerna Sharma, said that women are emotionally in a better position after menopause. She said, "PMS controls most of the system, which stops after menopause. Moreover, the hormonal changes that happen every 28 days also stop. Hormonal changes cause mood swings, irritation, agitation and frustration, which affects your life." She further added, "Menopause happens at a much later age when women mostly achieve what they want. This adds to their emotional satisfaction." She also talked about how the absence of stress of pregnancy after menopause helps women a lot. "During the fertility period, the finances are not always good. So women in the families are susceptible and tired of multiple births."

The Indian Context

But, is this true when we talk about women in India? Do Indian women, who are not always employed or sexually independent, feel happier after menopause? 

Sudeshna Ray, the Medical Director of said that, on a social level, women might feel happier after menopause. This is because they are mature, don't have the responsibility of raising children as adults by then, and are financially in a privileged position. Moreover, many women say that their sex life improves after menopause as there is no fear of pregnancy. The stress of period and period calender and menstrual cramps is also not there, which makes women feel emotionally happier.

However, in the Indian context, the scenario is different. Women's lives revolve around their reproductive abilities. Moreover, women who are financially not independent, feel the pressure of losing femininity, reproductive ability, and the inability to satisfy their husbands sexually, which at times causes depression.

Dr. Ray specified that sex life has nothing to do with menopause. A woman after menopause can have an equally good sexual life as a woman who is menstruating. Sex life and libido are affected by age.

She also talked about Hormonal Replacement Therapy which as per the study benefits women after menopause. Dr Ray said that Indian women of the urban sector are very much aware of HRT which is now called Menopausal Hormonal Replacement Therapy and avail it too. Even young doctors prescribe it and hence normalise it. However, women from non-urban areas are still not aware of this technique and hence they neither use it nor get benefits from it.

What do Indian Women who have hit Menopause Think?


But what do Indian women who have hit menopause think? 

"I don't agree with the idea that women are happier after menopause," says a housewife settled in Bengaluru. It's going to be a year since she bled last. However, she is suffering from hormonal changes that are causing irritation and depression. "Even though my children have grown up, I still feel stressed and lonely as I don't get their support. Not even my husband understands my mood swings. So no matter how I am feeling, I have to serve the family and clean the house." She also said that my husband and my children are mature enough to understand menstruation, but they don't support her because they consider it a 'ladies' problem' where men cannot meddle. 

Bihar's Anita Nayak, 50, who is also a housewife, denies the happiness factor. She says that the hormonal changes are so intense that she cries a lot. "I remember eating three plates of rice and dal at one time because of mood swings. I even fought with my husband and cried my eyes out for no reason. Thank God, my husband is supportive and didn't react." 

Nayak, however, does agree that after menopause, there is no fear of pregnancy. But still, she believes, protection must be used. As far as children are concerned, Nayak said that she is not relieved of the pressure of parenting. "Even though my children have grown up and are pursuing their careers, I am still worried about their marriage. Until they are married to good families, how can I be peaceful?" 

Sunita, 50, who handles the family business and is also a housewife, says that menopause didn't reduce the stress she has regarding her children. She says that the worry and pressure have increased. She wants her children to settle down and only then will she feel at peace. 

Sunita also agreed with the fact that hormonal changes make her feel depressed and irritated. She has a lot of mood swings. As far as sex and pregnancy are concerned, Sunita said, "I have reached an age where I have lost interest in sex. There are many responsibilities which make sex life unimportant." 


Why do Social conditioning & Lack of Awareness Overpowers Emotional Happiness?

After interacting with these women, I concluded that happiness among women- irrespective of age- depends on their social conditioning. Women in our society are not used to feeling happy. This was the reason why all the women I interacted with failed to recall a moment of happiness. For example, the housewife from Bengaluru had to toil in the house even though she was suffering. In our country, women shoulder the burden of unpaid labour as their duty. The families become so dependent on women that they forget about women's needs and happiness. Ultimately, women end up forgetting that they are humans too. No matter how the brain chemicals change, the reality of women in India wouldn't. 

Then comes the sex life. Women in our society, as Dr Barman said, are considered valid only if they can reproduce. But after menopause, women lose their reproductive ability which affects their sex life. How you wonder? We live in families where sex is seen as a process to make babies. It is not seen in terms of pleasure or orgasm. So, Indian women who hit menopause suddenly become unattractive and old to their partners. Sunita, for example, said that at her age women usually get tubectomy done. But this is not the reply to having a better sex life. This only shows that she relates sex to pregnancy. If she cannot get pregnant, what is the need to have sex?  

All the women I spoke to denied the idea that they were free of the pressure of parenting. In Indian society, children are dependent on their parents for everything. Unlike the other countries, Indian children stay with their parents even after attaining an age of being independent. Parenting in our society doesn't end with making children independent. Marriage is the definition of settling down in our society. Until that happens, no parent in India can be peaceful. 

Moreover, parenting is biased in our society. It is more of a woman's responsibility than that of a man. How then will women feel free from parenthood ever? 

Last but not least, everyone should be educated about not only menstruation but menopause too. The housewives from Bengaluru sought support from their husbands and children. But none of them came forward because they have no idea how menopause affects women. So if families are educated about menopause and menstruation, the situation will be more balanced. I too feel guilty here of lack of awareness. Menopause seemed fancy to me just because it would take away the burden of bleeding monthly. But I didn't know what other burdens it would add to my shoulder. 

Views expressed are the author's own.


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